Last year, 27 year old Annie Nalvin learned how to effectively manage her finances for the first time.
Annie is a second year Life Skills student at the Pamua Rural Training Centre (RTC) of the Anglican Church of Melanesia (ACoM) in Makira province in Solomon Islands. The Life Skills courses that she is enrolled in, cover a variety of subjects from catering to weaving. However during the last six months of 2018, her course also covered four-hour weekly lessons on saving, budgeting, investment and insurance. Annie describes these financial education lessons as life changing.
In June 2018, Annie became one of the first students at three (Garanga, Pamua and Airahu) ACoM RTCs chosen to take part in a regional initiative to pilot financial education (FinEd). The pilot is part of an ongoing partnership between the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) and ACoM.
Funded by the Australian Government, the FinEd lessons incorporate theoretical lessons with educational games, in-classroom exercises and entrepreneurial practicals to teach personal financial management. FinEd aims to facilitate a behavioural change in financial decisions of the future working generation of the Solomon Islands. The course empowers students to make responsible financial decisions appropriate to their circumstances and also teaches students how to earn a living in a modern money economy so that they can contribute to national economic growth.
Impact of FinEd on students
Annie earns a living by selling beans, capcicums, tomatoes and cabbages that she sources from her home garden. Previously, she used to sell the vegetables within her school’s compound and at the community market two times a week only. This earned her SBD $150 (USD $18) a day. After being introduced to FinEd, Annie was motivated to increase her earnings and decided to increase the number of days that she sells her produce. She now saves this extra money in a new savings account that she recently opened.
“I realize that I used to spend money recklessly, but now I have set savings goals and my ultimate objective is to save for my son’s education. FinEd has definitely changed my mindset towards proper money management. The course has influenced me to manage my money wisely and I am now in a position to put into practice what I learned,” Annie stated.
However, actually depositing into her bank account has been a challenge for Annie. It costs her SBD $20 ($2.43 USD) and a 30 minutes truck ride to get to the nearest bank. To address this barrier, she keeps her savings tucked away at home and once a month, she makes the journey to bank it.
The FinEd Regional initiative is an outcome of the Money Pacific Goals endorsed by the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) and the South Pacific Central Bank Governors in 2009, calling for the increased access of financial education for all Pacific Island children and adults. Currently, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea have begun embedding FinEd curricula into select tertiary institutes.
The promising results of the successful FinEd pilot has led the positive decision by ACoM to embed FinEd curricula at all its RTCs in 2019. This is expected to annually impact close to 800 tertiary students in Solomon Islands.